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Monday, May 03, 2010

Food and where it comes from...

For the past couple of weeks, I have been reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  In it, she details her family's year of living on their farm in Appalachia and really taking control of where the food they ate was coming from.  They raised chickens, bought local beef and pork, grew their own vegetables, canned and dried food for the off-season, and relied on local farms and farm markets to round out their diets.  As someone who buys all of her food at the grocery store and tries not to think of where it comes from, as well as someone who hits the drive-thru more than once each week, this is a new and interesting look at food and its origins.  It has gotten me interested enough that I have started seeking out alternative resources for the foods I eat.  I certainly am not planning a "cold turkey" approach to these changes, and I am sure that an occasional fast food run will be part of my life, but this book has really opened me up to the thought of living more locally and really paying attention to where the food I eat is coming from.

As usually happens when I become interested in a topic, I have started seeking out more information on this local food phenomenon.  The Nest's message board community has a "Green Living" board that I have been frequenting more as of late, and there are a lot of women on there who are doing better than I would ever hope to do at living cleanly and locally in their communities.  Without fail, these women recommend the books by Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food) and the documentary Food, Inc., as a way to learn more about this food movement.  After I finish Animal, Vegetable, Mineral, I have The Omnivore's Dilemma on my nook and ready to be read.  I think this book is probably a little more hard-hitting than A,V,M in that it is less the story of someone's personal experience and more an informational book designed to teach you about the food you eat.  And right now, I am watching Food,Inc., for the first time.  I say the first time because I will clearly have to watch it again.  It is alarming.

So far, I have cried over some baby chicks heading down a chute, some adult chickens that couldn't stand up because they had been bred to have such large breasts, a cow that was so sick that it couldn't stand, and some screaming hogs that were being led to slaughter.  I have been awed by a woman who lost her toddler son to E. coli poisoning and now has made it her life's work to improve the food standards in America.  I have been inspired by a farmer who doesn't care to make it big in the national markets but instead wants to grow and produce the best food he can without giving up his ideals.  I have been sad for a family that uses fast food as a way to fill their bellies because it is the way they can stretch their dollar the farthest.  I have been angered by the stories of the companies who are keeping hidden the way their suppliers treat their animals because they know that the American public would not be happy with these stories.  At this point, I am only halfway through the program.  I can't even imagine what kind of emotions I will go through during the rest of it.

While I make no promises to go completely clean with my eating or give up fast food completely, it is clear to me that there is a need for change.  As I am working to make myself healthier through diet and exercise, I am becoming more aware that there is a difference between staying within a calorie range for the day and choosing foods that will provide good fuel for my body.  With the help of local farms and farm markets, I hope to spend the summer giving my body higher quality fuel than I have in the past.  And through these efforts, I expect better health to follow.  As I take baby steps in this direction, I will blog it here.  If you are interested in more information on these topics, check out the official Food, Inc., website here.

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